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History of NYC - 1850s

By the 1850s, New York City’s ports handled more goods and people than all other American ports combined. In 1855, Fernando Wood was elected as the first mayor.

1850: Bird's Eye View of Lower Manhattan

An aerial perspective above Manhattan, showing the rapid change of the city's shore, skyline and developing landscape.

1850: Busy Scene at The South Street Seaport

Artist's rendering of The South Street Seaport, the first pier in the area was occupied in 1625 by the Dutch West India Company.

1850: Bowling Green Park

New York's oldest public park (formerly, there was a turf present for playing lawn bowling) which is also surrounded by the oldest fence in City.

1855: City Hall, Manhattan

A photograph of Manhattan's City Hall. Taken by A.R. Waud in the winter of 1855.

1858: Looking South from Chatham Square

Lithograph illustration of Chatham Square, named after William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham and Prime Minister of Great Britain before the American Revolution.

1857: Jefferson Market at 6th Avenue

An illustrative engraving of the original Market on 6th Avenue.

1855: George Washington Monument at Union Square

A group gathered around the newly constructed monument of George Washington in Union Square, dedicated in 1856 the the oldest sculpture in any NYC Park.

1855: Broadway and Vesey Street Looking South

Watercolor Illustration of Broadway and Vesey Street Looking South.

1850: Open Air Clothing Market in New York City

Photograph of an open air clothing market beneath the train tracks in New York City. Taken by A.R.Waud in 1850

1855: Broadway and Broome Street

The East side of Broadway and Broome Street looking North, capturing the hum and activity of downtown Manhattan during a cold winter.

1855: Brownstones on Fifth Avenue

View of a residential neighborhood along New York's Fifth Avenue. Rows of single-family brownstones with grand front stoops line the wide corridor.

1855: St. Germain Hotel on Fifth Avenue

A view of the St. Germain Hotel on the North East Corner of 5th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets (future site of The Flatiron Building).

1855: The Palisades, Hudson River and Yonkers

A view overlooking the Palisades, Hudson and Yonkers dockyard with railroad tracks which ran parallel to the Hudson River. Taken by Silas A. Holmes in 1855.

1855: Washington Square Park Fountain

A group portrait photograph of men, women & children gathered in front of Washington Square Park's famous fountain.

1859: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

The Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by entrepreneur/inventor Peter Cooper. Astor Place was named for John Jacob Astor soon after his death in 1848.

Next Chapter: History of NYC - 1860s

The 1860s were a time of reconstruction after the Civil War in 1865. The nation completed its first transcontinental railroad in 1868, the same year NYC completed its the first ... Continue Reading

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History of NYC - 10,000+ Years Ago

Learn all about NYC’s fascinating past by exploring the natural forces that shaped the environment and landscape, along with the people who would transform the “Island of Many Hills” into the greatest and most influential city in the world.

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